Monday, March 20, 2017








1) We vote on the "mechanism for choosing" the 13 people in the "$650 times 3 plan." We have had only mechanism thus far. I suggest we stick with it. We need to know who is in this group to calculate balances. (These people pay more in the long run). See below. 

2) The Family Plan. In a healthy family, those chi1dren with the greatest "needs" get the most help. We don't even question it. I suggest that we treat our family the same way. "Needs based." The greater the need... the greater the support.

Here is how:
X = Total amount raised  (example:  $10,000)
Y = The cumulative balance remaining for everyone (example: $30,00)  This also includes balances for those in the "13 club" who are shy of $650. Remember, they still owe $650 times 2 = $1300 in the future)

X / Y = $10,000 / $30,000 =  33 per cent

If Tom's balance is $300 due on 06/30, he would get $300 times 33% = $100
If Maria's balance is $1,500 on 06/30, she would get $1,500 times 33% = $500

This plan will result in dispensing ALL of the money raised  on a "needs basis." There will be a zero balance.

If we don't base our allotment of funds based on "need alone," then we enter the black hole...(plan to spend 6 hours!)
- We will get into the mire and the muck of "stories" and who "deserves more" 
- "Who deserves more" will enter us into the the unwelcome and unmeasurable world of "more/different/better." 
- Begging will occur with the "wealthier" family members which will force these folks to make "life boat" decisions. This can tear us apart. 

3) THE GRATITUDE PLAN. We acknowledge the "Gratitude" staff, alumni, coaches etc before us and we, with gratitude, ask for a gift or a loan for the remaining balance.

We move forward and together as a family!!

(FROM #1 ABOVE)  THE “13 GROUP”  ($650 times 3 = $1950 total; $650 due June 30) - THE "MECHANISM"
Please share with your buddy so we can walk in clear tomorrow. We are family. I stand that we all walk in tomorrow as our ML21 family leaving no one behind because of financial circumstances. I also declare for our family that no member be humiliated. This means not being forced to stand on chairs and having to beg. I believe the greater Gratitude family at this point sees our worthiness and will treat us with dignity. I take a stand that ALL who show up on June 30 for ML21 FLL walks in completely as a team or none of us walk in as a team. ----- As for the "Group of 13" payment plan ($1950 total with $650 down)... we were asked to come up with a "mechanism" for choosing the entire 13 family members (not a mechanism to throw one or two people out of the payment plan.) The mechanism suggested on June 26 was one of declarations. 13 spots were made available and exactly 13 declarations were made. It took 48 hours to fill all open spots and the process was made as public and as democratic as possible. Based upon out training thus far, I believe that "declarations" reflect the highest form of choosing in that it avoids the "more / better / different" game of... Who is poorest? Who put in the most work? Who has the worst job? Who suffers the greatest handicaps? Who is the most sympathetic? etc...

Any family member is free to choose a different methodology. But if a different methodology is chosen, then this means that all the declarations that have been made become null and void and we start from scratch. Dissent can certainly be respected. But it is much more powerfully respected if a viable option is given and if the suggestion stays away from the "more / better / different." game. We can prove that declarations have been made. We cannot prove anything when it comes to the "more / better / different" game unless an arbitrary and ridiculous benchmark is used (like height). If we can align on this knowing that ALL buckets will be filled then we can enjoy some serenity and make it into the room as a family. I propose we vote at 5:15 PM and that the plan with the most “yes” votes wins.

Everyone... I want you to meet Johnny. Johnny is homeless. 
He is also the man that returned my I Phone when it fell from my bike on US 1. Johnny is 60. He is not on drugs. He works. He used to work while living behind Walgreen's. There is a sudden and precipitous drop between the $2,000 per month Boca Apartments and the street. Not much in between.

Johnny's face blurred for humility's sake

Johnny took my phone to his friend who owns the dry cleaner below (see map). Johnny was worried about me... the owner of the phone... and information that may be lost. I called my phone and I retrieved it in 5 minutes. Johnny is an angel of light if there ever was one. But he has trouble getting work because his teeth aren't perfect.

So... to help provide Johnny stability, a sense of community, and a hot shower every day - I am buying a year gym membership at a "family" gym. Palm Beach gym. A gym that I call a hub of racial and ethnic harmony. A place where Johnny can belong. I really should do more. Maybe I will.

                                                               PLEASE PATRONIZE EUROPEAN CLEANERS ABOVE

Monday, March 13, 2017


1) Complaints/Issues with ATTY MARK LOWRY

Wednesday, Sep 9 1999 (7:30 PM) Melbourne, Florida

I arrived home from work at 7:30 after a long day’s work. Carly was just hanging up the telephone as I entered. “Mark, I just got off the phone with Judy Houser… you remember, the social worker that performed the home study for our planned international adoption. She just phoned to tell us that there are 9 month old twin boys available for adoption here in Melbourne. The family traveled here from Tennessee. She wanted to know if we wanted to visit with them and entertain the idea of adopting them.”

For some strange reason, amidst the flurry of work issues in my head, I was able to rapidly assimilate the proposal. It’s the big things I can process such as adopting kids , brain surgery (which I did have for those that don’t know me too well) – but sometimes it’s the little things, like taking out the garbage, that can overwhelm me. In any event… I said “Sure, Carly, it can’t hurt to meet them. We can be over there by 9 PM.”

So off we went. On the drive over, my mind was filled with projections… how would we get clothes/cribs on such short notice? What if we don’t bond with them?… What about my work? … What’s the criteria for choosing children after a single visit.? A tight ball of fear lay in my belly. We entered the room, along with the social worker and an associate from the adoption agency, and warmly introduced ourselves to the birth parents. My immediate impression of the birth parents was that they were gentle, hardworking folks doing the best they could to care for six children. One was asleep in the crib; the other was doing a “backward crab walk” across the bed.

One of the boys was then awakened and Carly and I played with the two boys for an hour – interspersed with questions/answers between the birth parents and us. One of the twins took a real liking to Carly as he sat up in her arms – mesmerized as he stared up at her. We left around 10:30 PM. Being that the birth parents had to soon return to Tennessee and that other couples were interested in meeting the children – we had to make a decision by noon the next day.

Thursday, September 10 1999 (7:00 AM)

Carly and I woke up in a daze. I can remember feeling physically nauseous over the import of the decision we faced. We shuffled and bantered about the house as we readied for the day – both of us resisting the daunting task that lay before us – making a lifetime decision. We were looking for a sign.

Boys two and four at rodeo 

We called our minister and laid out the details in front of him. We certainly did not expect him to make the decision for us, but we were looking for his guidance and validation of our thought process. He helped frame the event from a broader perspective. He helped allay our fears of becoming “instant parents,” as he suggested that parenting is the most demanding job in the world for which few are adequately prepared. He observed that Carly and I were committed and respectful of each other and that we could bring to the boys only that which we have developed in ourselves.

A few minutes later the social worker called to check in with us. It was at this point that it was revealed the boys’ birthdays were December 20 – the same date as our anniversary date. Immediately I thought to myself – “A sign!! … A sign from God!! … They’re ours !! It was also revealed that this day (September 10) was the anniversary date of the passing of my Grandmother. The pieces started falling into place. We had originally planned to go to Russia to adopt two siblings – and here twin boys dropped in our lap. We would adopt them !! 

Thursday, September 10 1999

We contacted our friends and exclaimed, “Can we borrow some children’s car seats right away, we are adopting twin boys in the next half hour!!” After our friends picked up their jaws from the ground, we were provided the car seats and we were off to the adoption agency.

As we were awaiting the paperwork to be processed, we had a chance to spend some more time with the birth parents. Carly and I were flattered to hear that the birth parents were more comfortable with us and had chosen us over other couples who had visited. The obvious question soon arises in people’s minds is “How could they possibly relinquish these two adorable boys?”

My boys and I (Coach of basketball)

Their response was that they simply weren’t able to provide the necessary time and attention that all of their children deserved and still make ends meet. Carol and I accepted the explanation at face value and concluded that their decision was carried out through their hearts and the through the guidance of their God. Carol and I chose to believe that in many respects, they are performing the greatest form of love for their children by doing what they feel will be for the highest good for these two young boys.

The most emotional moment came at the point of separation. The process was set up so that, though the birth parents met with us, they were never made aware of our names nor our residence. The attorney handling the process, in attempt to substantiate closure and to emphasize that a firm accord had been realized, stated “Please say your good-byes now.”

  My son dressed as a nerd... funniest costume ever !!  

I could feel my heart sink to my stomach. After the parents tearfully planted kisses on the cheeks of the boys, Carly and I, now crying along with the birth parents, embraced them and guaranteed that we would care for the children to the best of our abilities. In the short time we spent with the birth parents, we formed a real kinship and respect for each other and as a result, Carly and I feel tasked to do whatever it takes to provide an environment in which the boys can thrive.

Thursday, September 10, 6:00 PM

Carly and I arrived home with the boys and it quickly became apparent that word had spread about our “acquisitions.” Friends from the neighborhood and our church, as well as Carly's friends from her activities (Junior League, Book Club, Guardian ad Litem program), poured into our home that evening with food, diapers, toys, cribs, playpens, clothes, shoes, highchairs, strollers etc… Carly and I were overwhelmed by the love and support we received. It felt like an Amish barn-raising! We are blessed to have such solid, trusting friends and we couldn’t have been more thankful and appreciative.


Next came the immensely pleasurable task of telephoning our families to share the wonderful news. Once the initial shock wore off, their next comment was “When’s the next flight to Melbourne?” Much later that night, with our hearts overflowing, Carly and I retired for bed with the firm belief that all of our needs would be taken care of.

Can you find mu boy amidst 9 grand kids ?

UPDATE:  Both of my twin boys live in South Florida near their father and grandparents and are freshmen in college. The mom plans to join the rest with her fiance in the near future.

Almost current day